Help Tibet works in partnership with the exiled Tibetan community in India and Nepal.
Over the years we have been supporting the resolution of basic problems, such as clean water and sanitation in the settlements, and in recent years we have been able to move towards enabling the Tibetan community in exile to be more self-sufficient through community business enterprises and youth training.
As a general rule, the settlements and villages we work with contribute a small percentage of the cost of each project as well as providing any unskilled labour required, thereby giving them a stake in the sustainability of the project.
Obviously, our work has been greatly impacted by the outbreak of the world pandemic and, while we continue to fund our long-term commitment to the most vulnerable, our focus is currently directed towards lessening the impact of this disease; for example, daily lunches for the elderly, grants for food, PPE and emergency medical care.
We are uncertain when Trustees will be able to visit, so in the meantime we are in regular contact with our partners in Nepal, who are able to update and advise us on the situation.
Below you’ll find some examples of the sort of projects we support.
Care of old and vulnerable
Thonden Ling was the first old people’s home to be built with financial support from us. It was also the first old people’s home to be built in Nepal and housed up to 38 residents. Following this, a home for 60 residents was built in Jampaling Camp with funds from another organisation but using our expertise to plan a building that was suitable for the older generation. Building on our experience a third home was built with our support in India using environmentally friendly methods. The homes are all at the centre of their communities.
We also give financial support to a substantial number of old and vulnerable people, many living in high mountainous areas, to enable them to remain in their own homes.
The noodle factory, which is run from Paljor Ling camp, is a success story and a great example of business enterprise.
Seeing the demand for noodles in the community, Help Tibet suggested that this factory was set up. We supported our partner agency to source the necessary equipment and initial training. Since this initiative started 14 years ago, the factory has doubled in size and been able to employ more workers. It supplies the local community – not only Tibetan but also Nepalese. Riding on the success of this, another factory has recently been set up in Jampaling providing work for women in the community.
We have also provided opportunities for families to set up small businesses with interest free loans. These include restaurants/community kitchens, electrical shops, general stores, a fabric business and incense factories.
We have supported programmes to modernise kindergartens. This includes staff training, maintenance of and improvements to facilities, as well as the provision of new equipment. Our aim is to help create a lively and imaginative environment where children will receive an excellent foundation for their future education.
Our library programme was started to encourage young children to read. During the initial years, several primary school libraries were set up and a number of librarians were trained. The results have been astounding with children desperate to get to their libraries whenever possible, even after school. Not only has their classwork improved immensely but also their self-confidence and ability to form opinions, which they can now put forward. Seeing the success of these programmes, staff in middle and senior schools have begun to request support for them to set up similar schemes.
All these programmes are ongoing, with budgets being put in place once projects are completed to enable continuing improvements to be funded.
We have sponsored many different courses for students to provide them with a future that will enable them to be able to support themselves and their families. Courses provided have included physiotherapy, osteopathy, nutrition, driving, cooking, beauty, secretarial, carpentry, etc.
Water is a scarce resource in the Tibetan community in both India and Nepal and Help Tibet has supported the installation of water facilities not only for the residents of the settlements but also for their animals. Mains water is often scarce and availability as little as ½ an hour every few days during the dry season. Many Tibetan communities are only able to survive because of the installation of the water storage facilities we have funded.
Electricity is another resource which can be hard to come by on a regular basis. This is particularly important in some of the settlements that are close to the jungle. By providing funds for solar street lighting, we can help to protect the residents in their villages and camps from wild elephants, bears, tigers, etc on a daily basis.
Help Tibet continues to fund solar energy solutions in many areas which include solar cookers, indoor solar lighting and solar powered water distribution to homes.
To help the Tibetan community towards self-sustainability, farming projects have enabled communities to support themselves and bring in income for their communal needs. For instance, every family in Walung, has their own greenhouse that enables them to have fresh vegetables all year round with any surplus being sold to the wider community. In another high altitude Himalayan Tibetan community, Tserok, now has a thriving apple business which has been developed over the years by the community, starting with clearing the stones from the land and putting in irrigation channels.
During monsoon and the snow melt in the late summer of 2018, Tserok Settlement faced an emergency caused by the drastic flooding of the Kali Gandaki river which damaged their access road and it became very difficult to get into the settlement. We were able to respond to this crisis with funding for the community to fix the pathway.